Former three-time All-SEC Florida quarterback Shane Matthews, a current Gainesville resident, radio personality and assistant high school football coach, has been sentenced to three months in prison for his minor role in a healthcare fraud conspiracy orchestrated by another former UF player, linebacker Monty Grow.
Matthews, 47, was sentenced in a south Florida court last week after pleading guilty on Aug. 17, 2017, to one count of causing a drug to be misbranded.
On Monday, a federal jury unanimously convicted Grow of healthcare fraud conspiracy for bilking $20 million from the TRICARE program for military members, veterans and their families.
He was also convicted of conspiring to receive and pay kickbacks for referring hundreds of military beneficiaries to Pompano Beach-based pharmacy Patient Care America. He also was convicted of money laundering.
Grow, who faces up to 20 years in prison, was taken into custody immediately. His sentencing hearing is April 16.
In a 49-count indictment, Grow was accused of hiring an independent marketing team, including Matthews, in the conspiracy to fleece the TRICARE program.
Matthews, the volunteer offensive coordinator at Gainesville High, where his son Luke is a star quarterback, was paid $440,000 for lining up sales representatives who secured TRICARE patients for the pharmacy.
Matthews gave a statement to The Sun on Monday night saying he entered into employment with Grow, a former teammate and friend, thinking he was taking a legitimate job. He said he was approached by authorities in the spring of 2016 and informed that it was a fraudulent operation and that he cooperated fully during the investigation.
“Stunned by this revelation, I immediately cooperated with the authorities and offered to give back every cent of my compensation,” Matthews said in his statement. “I deeply regret getting involved with Mr. Grow’s business. “My biggest mistake was not asking more questions in regards to his business practices. I have learned a valuable lesson in the importance of prudent decision making. Going forward, I will be sure to share this experience with the young men I coach so that they might avoid the pitfalls of a mistake this costly.
“I accept full responsibility for my role in this operation. The punishment of a brief incarceration pales in comparison to the embarrassment this has caused me, my family, my friends, and the Gator Nation. For letting down all those who have supported me over the years, I offer my sincerest apologies.”
Matthews’ attorney, Miles Kinsell, also gave a statement to The Sun, saying that Matthews thought he was working for a legitimate business and was unaware that Grow was operating an illegal scheme.
“In late April/early May of 2015 Mr. Matthews ceased working with Mr. Grow never having any idea that in actuality Mr. Grow was running an unlawful scheme to receive illegal ‘kickbacks’ on the sale of prescription medicines,” Kinsell said in his statement. “In early 2016 investigators contacted Mr. Matthews and informed him that they were investing Mr. Grows ‘business’. Immediately Mr. Matthews agreed to fully cooperate with investigators and assisted them with their investigation.
“In meetings arranged by myself and co-counsel Tim Jansen, Mr. Matthews met the prosecutors from the US Attorney’s Office and it is my belief that they were convinced that he had no idea that Mr. Grow was conducting an illegal enterprise.
“Mr. Matthews returned all proceeds he earned during his employment. The Government chose not to charge Mr. Matthews with the Felony Fraud crimes that Mr. Grow and others in his organization were indicted on, deciding instead to charge him with a single misdemeanor charge. Mr. Matthews accepted full responsibility and ultimately entered a plea to the misdemeanor charge.”
According to court filings, the federal government has a forfeiture against Matthews for $439,765. He’s set to report to a federal facility as close to Gainesville as possible. He must surrender on or before noon on June 1.
He’ll be on some kind of electronic “home detention” monitoring for three months and has to do 50 hours of community service, plus pay a fine of $100.
At Matthews’ sentencing hearing, several letters were submitted in his defense, including one from his former wife, Stephanie Weldon, the mother of his two children.
“Your honor, please consider Shane’s history as a man and a father in sentencing him for his part in this terrible situation he unknowingly became involved in,” Weldon wrote. “He is not a bad person; he got involved in a very bad situation.
“Shane is a very trusting person and would not have considered the possibility Monty was dragging him into something so sinister and wrong.”